The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently recognized the professionals behind the lab's greatest innovations from the past year during its Intellectual Property & Technology Transfer Awards.
With more than 100 active licenses covering the spectrum of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies creating several hundred new research and development agreements with industry partners, the luncheon celebrated NREL's commercialization success and recognized the researchers and engineers who made it happen.
"As NREL sharpens its focus on energy systems integration, the individual successes are starting to meld into a greater, NREL-wide focus on comprehensive, industry-changing energy solutions," said Bill Farris, NREL's Associate Lab Director of Innovation, Partnering, and Outreach.
NREL added 29 new Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) in 2012, bringing its total to 184. CRADAs are one tool industry partners utilize when looking to license NREL technologies; for every dollar that the Energy Department invests in a CRADA, it attracts another $8 in private investment.
Himmel Named Distinguished Innovator
Research Fellow Mike Himmel, one of NREL's top inventors measured by number of patents generated and licenses executed, was honored with the Distinguished Innovator of the Year Award.
The Distinguished Innovator of the Year Award recognizes scientists who have shown leadership that has significantly impacted the commercialization of NREL technologies, demonstrated innovation productivity, and created impactful technologies.
Himmel is a biochemist whose work on cellulase greatly simplified and lowered the cost of converting biomass to fuel. A principal scientist in the Energy Sciences Center, he has more than 30 years of experience in conducting, supervising, and planning research in: protein biochemistry, recombinant technology, enzyme engineering, new micro-organism discovery, and physicochemistry of macromolecules. He also has contributed to more than 450 journal papers, books, patents, and copyrights.
Research Fellow David Ginley received a Special Recognition Award for his innovations resulting in more than 10 NREL patents, six of which have already been licensed by outside companies. One of these patents, for the Preparation of a Semiconductor Thin Film, has been cited in another 45 patents. Over the span of his career, Ginley has more than 30 issued and pending U.S. patents and contributed to more than 360 publications in technical journals. His work covers a vast range of innovations, from batteries to electronics to photovoltaics, to flat panel displays.
Of the researchers being acknowledged, Farris said: "The people in this room are the tip of the spear. Their genius, innovation, and labor won't just change the way our nation thinks about energy – it will transform energy use on a global scale."
NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.
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